General collection information
This Newspapers.com™ index contains newspaper obituaries published in Canada from the early 1800s until the present day. The index includes links to the digitized pages on Newspapers.com™. Clicking on the link will open the image on the Newspapers.com™ site, which may require an additional upgrade or subscription.
Using this collection
Obituaries in this collection may include the following information:
A detailed obituary can be an excellent starting point for family research. Obituaries can provide information that other historical sources can’t offer, including employment and education histories, volunteer activities, and military service records. Family names and relationships can be added to a family tree. Military service information can lead to enlistment and pension records. Birth and marriage dates can open a path to newspaper announcements and official birth and marriage certificates. A church funeral location may lead to additional church records.
Collection in context
The obituaries in this index are high-quality primary historical sources. They were either written by journalists working for newspapers throughout Canada, or submitted to newspapers by funeral home directors or members of the deceased’s family. The original newspapers that they were published in are available on the Newspapers.com™ website.
Throughout most of the 19th century, many obituaries in Canadian newspapers were simply published versions of tombstones with names, birthdates, and death dates. Notifying the public about the deaths of local residents was done in the context of the times in which they were published.
During the Victorian Era, obituaries often noted the deceased’s financial status, occupation, and the number of years they worked. Obituaries published in local newspapers often informed the public about funeral and burial services for the deceased. They also notified creditors who might have wanted to file a claim against the deceased’s estate.
Funeral homes and newspapers began to develop a basic template for obituaries during the 1930s. A four-part structure was commonly used, starting with a death announcement, followed by a short biography and list of survivors, and ending with funeral information.
Beyond the Dash. “The History of the Obituaries.” Accessed 21 February, 2023. https://beyondthedash.com/blog/obituary-writing/the-history-of-obituaries/7260.
Frazer Consultants. “The History of the Obituary.” Accessed 21 February, 2023. https://www.frazerconsultants.com/2017/02/the-history-of-the-obituary/#.
Newspapers.com. “Home.” Accessed 21 February, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/browse/united-states/.
Roos, Dave. “How Obituaries Went From Dry Death Notices to Tributes to Truth.” HowStuffWorks.com. Accessed 21 February, 2023. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/funerals/obituary-history.htm.
15 Feb 2023: Added 185,246 new records from hundreds of newspapers.
14 Jun 2023: Added 7,969 new records from hundreds of newspapers.
30 Aug 2023: Added 533,379 new records from hundreds of newspapers.